The Festival | Education as a Key Part | Media Involvement | Testimonials & Feedback

Education as a Key Part

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Universities
Four universities were involved in educational and cultural exchange:
a) Yunnan University
b) Yunnan Arts Institute
c) Yunnan Institute of the Nationalities
d) Yunnan Institute for Trade & Economic Development

Festival participants gave over 40 lectures, workshops, seminars, and master classes in these universities. Subjects included business ethics, philosophy, indigenous culture, special needs children, and the arts (visual, performing, crafts, and art history).

The prestigious Yunnan Arts Institute canceled all of its regular programs to allow the students to attend the concerts and classes. This had never happened before. At the conclusion of the festival, the President of the Institute said that hosting this 'International Cultural Exchange Week' on the campus was one of the most significant achievements of his life.

Lunchtime Concerts
Students fought to get into lunch time concerts, standing in line for up to two hours to get a seat in the university auditoriums. Students stood in the aisles and sat on each others shoulders in order to participate. Their reaction was overwhelming.

Many of the festival participants were invited to the homes and studios of the faculty and students. Over meals and gracious hospitality, they were able to deepen relationship and dialog.

Honorary Professorships
Eleven festival lecturers were awarded Honorary Professorships by the Arts Institute, in an official ceremony held at the conclusion of the week. In addition, IFA President, Colin Harbinson, was made Honorary President of the Institute, an unprecedented recognition that had to receive government approval.

Education Delegation
An Education Delegation consisting of ten educators from England and Canada, interacted with the Education Commission. The theme, 'Releasing the Potential of the Special Needs Child' was explored during a two-day Symposium hosted at Yunnan University. It was attended by ninety Chinese educators and orphanage directors.

The delegation subsequently visited three special needs schools and an orphanage, inter-acted with students and staff, discussed the spe-cific needs of particular children, and dialoged on relevant issues in the local situation.

At the conclusion of the week, a one-day meeting was held with the Education Commission and key Chinese educators to discuss areas of mutual interest and ongoing cooperation. The following areas were identified by the Chinese as important to them in program development and training:

a) assessment techniques
b) emotional and mental health issues
c) behavioral management
d) early intervention
e) communication disorders
f) multiple handicaps
g) staff care

Ongoing discussion is now underway with the Yunnan Education Commission for the development of training programs and staff exchanges that will address the issues above.

Art 'Therapy' Delegation
A delegation consisting of art teachers from several countries spent the week working with children in three special needs schools. Using music, movement, painting, and crafts, they worked with blind and deaf children, as well as those with mental and physical problems. Working alongside the Chinese teachers, they were able to see a release of creativity and joy in these special children.

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© 2007 Colin Harbinson Email Colin: colin4arts@gmail.com